what's on

The business of spreading smiles

As the Smiley emoticon takes over The Bicester Collection this summer, we sat down with CEO Nicholas Loufrani to find out how his positivity message has changed the world.

It all started with a smile. When, in 1971, French journalist Franklin Loufrani wanted to spread more smiles, he launched his positive news movement, Take the Time to Smile, in a host of Europe’s leading newspapers. Since then, The Smiley Company’s eponymous emoticon has made it into our everyday vocabulary and its popularity has evolved the movement into a global fashion and lifestyle brand.

“He believed that we should read positive news stories and focus on the positives with our family, friends, co-workers and the communities we live in,” says Loufrani’s son Nicolas, now CEO of Smiley®.

Under Nicolas’ leadership, the feel-good brand has shaped the way we share happiness and express ourselves through iconic products found worldwide. It’s now a spirit and a philosophy – a symbol of defiant optimism in pursuit of a free-thinking, forward-moving and happier global society.

It’s this philosophy that resonated with The Bicester Collection ahead of our collaboration this summer, which sees smile-inducing installations and exclusive product from Smiley® launch in every Village.

“One of our missions at The Bicester Collection is to make the lives of others better; be it our brands, our people or our guests,” explains Chief Culture Officer Chantal Khoueiry. “We share the same values of giving back, doing good, spreading smiles and this message of hope that we need so much at the moment.”

Franklin Loufrani believed that we should read positive news stories and focus on the positives with our family, friends, co-workers and the communities we live in.

Nicolas Loufrani

CEO of Smiley

Whether it’s the fun foodie offerings – think coffees topped with a chocolate smiley and limited edition ice cream flavours – or the exclusive products splashed with positivity, all proceeds will be donated to The Bicester Collection’s DO GOOD charity partners.

“I hope our partnership will raise awareness about the charities that we support, ten incredible charities, who are each doing their bit to unlock the future of women and children, locally and globally,” adds Chantal.

Nicolas says: “I hope The Bicester Collection will be able to raise a lot of money for the ten charities its supports – it’s important to give them a voice. And I also hope that the millions of people who are going to visit the Villages will be reminded to take the time to smile, to do good and to think positive.

“It’s something that everybody wants now, especially after these two very tough years. They want to live again, be part of a community and interact with other people.”

La Vallée Village Smiley Launch

I hope our partnership will raise awareness about the charities that we support, 10 incredible charities, who are each doing their bit to unlock the future of women and children, locally and globally.

Chantal Khoueiry

Chief Culture Officer at The Bicester Collection

How emoticons captured the world

It’s this ability to forge an instant connection that Nicolas believes has driven the popularity of emoticons. These symbols are powerful means of expression – giving the world an easy way to convey emotion and meaning. “When I launched the company’s first emoticons, my slogan was ‘the birth of a universal language’. Even then, I thought there was something really relevant about this – it had the potential to appeal globally,” says Nicolas.

“When we communicate, many of us use our hands. There’s also tone of voice, facial expressions and lots of other non-verbal cues that aren’t used when you text, email or call someone. So, emoticons, emojis, digital stickers; all of these bring life to a message that otherwise appears in black and white. These non-verbal cues are absolutely necessary when we communicate with each other.”

When it comes to the future, Nicolas believes our ability to express emotions via text is only going to continue to evolve as technology does. “We talk about the metaverse, so maybe in the future you’ll be in the metaverse and see people around you with their avatars expressing different emotions or having 3D emoticons around them.” However they look in the future, it’s clear that emoticons have become the world’s favourite shared language – and we have The Smiley Company’s obsession with positivity to thank.

So, tuck into a smiley-topped ice cream or buy this season’s must-have tote bag when you next visit the Villages… you’ll bring a smile to those in need.

  • Plan your visit

    Your next adventure is closer than you think...

    DISCOVER THE VILLAGES
  • Get to know our charity partners

    Our Villages are united around one cause; the empowerment of women and children.

    FIND OUT MORE